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Three Types Of Justice By Plato

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  • Category Law
  • Topic Justice
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There are three types of Justice discussed in Book 1 of Plato’s Republic which are Retributive, Procedural, and Social Justice. Retributive justice is the type of justice that requires someone to pay back their debts if they took something. According to Cephalus, justice requires ‘repayment’ from those who have taken something. For example, The death penalty can be considered retributive justice because someone may have took a life and now their life will be taken from them in return. Procedural justice is doing good for someone that you are close with but doing harm to someone you do not get along with. Polemarchus believes that justice is doing good to good people and doing bad to bad people. For example, Giving your friend a ride to work. However, when you see someone who you are not very fond of waiting for the bus you drive right past them. The third justice mentioned in the text is Social justice which is similar to procedural justice. Social justice requires not only making people better than the already are but also making them more just then they were before. Socrates believes that justice requires making all people more good, and more just. The difference between Retributive justice and the other types of justice is that it applies to a situation where someone has took something and did not give it back. Another example would be taking a chair and not returning it as promised.The difference between procedural justice and the other forms of justice is that is deals with only doing good for your friends and doing bad things to those who are not your friends. The difference between Social justice and the other types of justice is taking a person and making them better than they were before and more just.

Everyone has their own ideas on justice and how it impacts the lives of others. A wise man from greece named, Thrasymachus’ believed that justice did not benefit anyone in a positive way except for the ruler. He believed that justice was for those who were strong. He also believed that justice was an “instrumental” good for the ruler. He believed that every society had a government. There is always someone who makes the rules and laws no matter where you go. He knew that every society had a government and he also knew that they made laws to benefit their ruling type. For example, a King who is a tyrant wants laws that helps him keep in power, and prevents anyone else from getting enough power to raise a challenge. Living in a city ran by a tyrant is not beneficial to any of the citizens even if they obey all of the laws. If it isn’t beneficial for the citizens to live in that city there can not be social justice. Social justice is to help better someone and make them more just and you can’t really do that if you just have justice to benefit you and not others. As a citizen the laws should benefit everyone not just the ruler. However, Socrates argues that tyrants can make mistakes and that they can be wrong about which laws help keep them in power . Which is understandable because in life everyone does make mistakes even the people with high authority. Socrates does not agree that justice is only good for the ruler. Thrasymachus’ argues that a person knowledgeable in a craft is an expert in that craft. To back up his beliefs, he mentions how doctors usually tell you what to do to stay healthy. He also claims that an expert applies his craft to benefit those who need that craft. For example, a doctor prescribing a patient a prescription. However, Socrates backed Thrasymachus’ into a corner that he could not get himself out of. Thrasymachus’ agreed with two statements that both can not be true. The first was that a ruling power only rules according to what serves its own best interests of the ruled. The second is that A ruling power is an expert in the craft of ruling, which only serves the best interests of the ruled and that lead to Socrates saying no.

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Socrates idea of social justice is that justice is only to the advantage of everyone, especially the weak. He believes that there is social justice in his ideal city. He mentions that experts connect on the same knowledge meaning that if one expert is better at something, he or she teaches the others so they can be better too. He also mentions that no expert uses skills to take advantage of other people or of those who needs help from the expert. The things that he mentions are examples of how his ideal city will have social justice. He believes that justice must be a virtue and beneficial for everyone and that injustice must be vice and bad for everyone. Everyone in his city will be treated equally. Socrates mentions that ruling and deliberating seems to be proper functions of the soul. However, all the purpose or function of a soul is living. Not only is ruling and deliberation functions of the soul but also deals with justice which is also a virtue of the soul. A good ruler and deliberator are elements of a just soul and those functions are to be virtuous then just soul is a virtuous soul. He also mentions that if the first function of the soul is to live then a virtuous soul must be a soul that is living well. He believes that people would be happier in his city. He also believed that his city would be with helping citizens flourish. Socrates indicates that a just soul is wise and it knows how to act. No only does a just soul know how to act but is able to act well. There is a difference between knowing how to do something and doing it well. He also believes that for the soul to function properly and for it to flourish a person must be happy.


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